The Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building. For years, until the death of the former State Attorney, it was just known as The Metro Justice Building- MJB.
Some love it.
Others, like film maker Billy Corben, come away from their first exposure to our humble abode shaken and a bit weak kneed.
It's fashionable to trash our old courthouse. No longer the belle of the ball, she sits un-admired and scorned like a wizened southern deb wearing a hat a few decades out of fashion. Three new Federal Courts have risen in downtown Miami while the MJB plugged away; even Broweird has a new Courthouse, albeit one staffed by the same tired old Judges. West Palm has a magnificent edifice to justice. And the Orange Bowl has come and gone and been replaced by a new Marlins Stadium. All the while the MJB has taken in the expanding Miami justice system-squeezing in a new courtroom here- a small chamber for a judge there. For many years the PDs were on the eighth floor while the State Attorney's had offices on six and nine. Who remembers the old fishbowl in front of the elevators on six?
But our courthouse was not always an aging embarrassment. With a very big hat tip to the Random Pixels Blog we present to you "Taj Metro"
Miami News Editor Bill Baggs presented a decidedly different view of the new criminal courthouse when construction was completed on the eight million dollar courthouse in 1962.
Baggs raved about the 250 foot long pool gracing the front of the building: he speculated that then UM hotshot QB George Mira could not throw a football the length of the pool. The interior of the courthouse had a glass mosaic from Mexico and marble from Italy. The marble of the pool was "Etowah Pink Marble from Georgia."
And the courthouse was roomy! Baggs speculated that the Green Bay Packers could safely scrimmage in the hallways. Why no reference to the hometown Dolphins? They weren't in existence when our courthouse opened. Don Shula was an unknown name, as was Bob Griese, Mercury Morris, and Larry Csonka. Dan Marino wasn't even a twinkle in the eyes of his parents who hadn't even met yet.
Just how swank was our new courthouse? Not only did every county official want an office in the new place, but according to Baggs "The walls inside the White House are not nearly as elegant..." And this was a White House being restored by Jackie Kennedy at the time.
The courtrooms on the second floor were an awe inspiring "two stories high" inviting some infighting among the various judges to secure a prestigious venue from which to adjudicate the day's calendar. Just how big was this amazing courthouse? The ninth floor remained vacant when the courthouse opened. Baggs wondered whether a nine hole golf course would be installed?
The entire article is below for you to read. Just remember that she may be a bit tattered and aged, but this old gal has served our community well for fifty one years.
See You In The Court we have loved more than any other.